Both the Nikon D3X and Sony Alpha 850 have more than 24.5 million pixels, yet the D3X costs around u00a33,100 more. Richard Sibley finds out what you get for the extra cash in our Nikon D3X vs Sony Alpha 850 test

Nikon D3X vs Sony Alpha 850 – White Balance and Colour

I imagine that most people using the Nikon D3X or Sony Alpha 850 will shoot the majority of their images as raw files. While it is easy to adjust the white balance of raw images, it is obviously far easier if you don’t have to make the adjustments in the first place.

When in AWB, the D3X uses the same 1005-pixel RGB sensor that is used by the metering system to judge the correct white balance for a given scene. As this system is programmed to recognise particular scenes, such as landscapes, the D3X can recognise a sky and try to adjust the white balance to make it the correct shade of blue.

This is the same system Nikon uses in all its pro-level cameras and it works very well, producing well-balanced colours in almost all situations. I found that under tungsten lighting, midday sunshine and a late afternoon sunset, the automatic white balance produced good results.

The Sony Alpha 850 also produced good results in its AWB mode, although I found that it produced better results when it had to deal with more subtle hues. As Angela Nicholson discovered
when she originally reviewed the Sony Alpha 850, the camera has a tendency to overemphasise particularly strong colours in the scene. For example, in one instance a bright blue midday sky caused the image to have a slight blue hue to it.

Obviously there is a wealth of preset white balance settings on both cameras and it is simple to switch to these, or choose a manual or custom white balance setting should you wish.

However, if you require more refinement, the Nikon D3X has even more options. By selecting white balance in the shooting menu, you can not only choose the white balance setting, but also fine-tune the white balance to adjust the hue of each of the settings slightly.

This level of refinement looks great on a specification sheet. However, I doubt whether too many photographers will ever really get the most out of it or even use this level of control, preferring instead to simply set a custom white balance or adjust raw images.

Nikon D3x vs Sony Alpha 850 evaluative metering. Both cameras metered this scene almost identically, although the AWB of the Nikon D3X produced the more accurate colour rendition.

Image: Both cameras metered this scene almost identically, although the AWB of the Nikon D3X produced the more accurate colour rendition

  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. Nikon D3X vs Sony Alpha 850 - Features
  3. 3. Nikon D3X vs Sony Alpha 850 - Build and Handling
  4. 4. Nikon D3X vs Sony Alpha 850 - Metering
  5. 5. Nikon D3X vs Sony Alpha 850 - Viewfinder, Live View and LCD
  6. 6. Nikon D3X vs Sony Alpha 850 - White Balance and Colour
  7. 7. Nikon D3X vs Sony Alpha 850 - Autofocus
  8. 8. Nikon D3X vs Sony Alpha 850 - Noise, resolution and sensitivity
  9. 9. Nikon D3X vs Sony Alpha 850 - Dynamic Range
  10. 10. Nikon D3X vs Sony Alpha 850 - Verdict
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